Miss Polish Town USA Claudia Zacharewicz parades down Pulaski Street...

Miss Polish Town USA Claudia Zacharewicz parades down Pulaski Street during the The 41st Annual Polish Town Fair in Riverhead, Aug. 15, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

Thousands turned out for pierogies and polka at the 41st annual Polish Town Fair in Riverhead Saturday.

The festival, hosted by the Polish Town Civic Association, featured 250 vendors, live music and cultural events, including a mock traditional Polish wedding.

Festival co-chairman Rob Gottschalk estimated that the festival, which continues Sunday, will draw about 50,000 visitors.

"This is what supports the civic association," Gottschalk said. "It's our job not only to preserve our heritage, but to meld it into the community in Riverhead."

Polish immigrants settled in the area more than 100 years ago, and their descendants still run some of the farms and neighborhood businesses today, Gottschalk said.

As Claudia Zacharewicz, the 2015 Polish Town Queen, walked through the stalls of crafts and T-shirts in her cape and crown, families stopped the Riverhead resident for pictures.

"I love it -- it's exciting," said Zacharewicz, 17. She said she's been coming to the festival for years, though this was her first as queen.

Hundreds of attendees watched as volunteers in wedding clothes paraded through the streets behind Zacharewicz for the event's mock wedding.

The wedding party wore colorful beaded vests from the Krakow region of Poland and carried bright bouquets of flowers as they performed traditional dances for the audience.

Bunny Egers had to get aggressive, but the Middle Island resident won against a dozen young women in the scuffle for the bride's bouquet.

"He's Polish and I figured, let me do the tradition," Egers, 67, said, motioning to her boyfriend, Peter Martin.

Martin, 73, also of Middle Island, said he embraces his heritage and comes to the festival each year.

He decided to bring Egers this year, planning to introduce her to authentic kielbasa and pierogies.

The civic association typically sells more than 2,500 pounds of kielbasa and 150 kegs of beer at the fair, Gottschalk said.

It was the food that attracted Chris Robles, 40, to the event. He hadn't attended before, but the Patchogue resident read about the festival and said he loves pierogies.

"It's a lot of people and a lot of stuff," he said. "It's very cool."

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